On a night of pulsating emotions, one which only Arsenal could manage to put its fans through, the Gunners managed to make the mother of all comebacks.
From 4-0 down after 37 minutes and with all Arsenal fans fearing the worst, somehow, the team managed to claw its way back from the dead to win 7-5 in the end.
Make no mistake, this was one heck of a roller coaster ride and not for the faint-hearted.
Here is the line up and the timing of the substitutions:
Arsenal: Martinez, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Djourou, Miquel (Meade 105), Arshavin, Frimpong (Giroud 62), Coquelin, Walcott, Chamakh, Gnabry (Eisfeld 62).
Subs Not Used: Shea, Squillaci, Bellerin, Yennaris.
We fans believed that the starting eleven was a good, one which could win last nights clash, albeit marginally.
But what we saw unfold in the first half made us think twice and look on in horror.
During a comedy of comedies, Arsenal managed to contrive to put itself 4-0 down after 37 minutes. With fans fearing the worst and some of them already leaving the ground, those of us who chose to remain, steeled ourselves for a night on par with the 8-2 mauling at OT.
At one point some of the Arsenal players were playing so badly that anyone could count on one hand the amount of players who were putting in a shift. In fact I guess one finger would have been difficult to fill up with a name. For all their expensive players Arsenal were dishing up a performance not even worthy of Sunday league Football.
Between the 12th and 18th minute Arsenal managed to create for themselves an utter disaster, where Jenkinson, Miguel, Koscielny and Djourou defended with inexcusable naivety. Noel Hunt, Hal-Robson Kanu, Jason Roberts, Chris Gunther and Mikele Leigertwood all contrived to mock the above mentioned back line. And how they enjoyed doing that, they seemed to dance to every goal that went in and at that stage it was three!.
The crowd at the Madjeski stadium could hardly believe what they were seeing, especially when a fourth went in after Gareth Macleary’s cross from the right found its way in courtesy of a header by Hunt.
I was not impressed with what Arsenal were giving the fans. And neither were those at the Madejski seeing that some of them were already leaving while those left began chanting ‘We want our Arsenal back’.
Arsenal laboured and laboured and could barely string a good attack together. The midfield were not giving enough cover to the defence and the latter were like headless chickens running around without any shape or direction.
And then the comeback began. It was route one goal through the centre. Just before half-time, Andrei Arshavin passed a through ball for Theo to race onto and he made no mistake with a lifted shot over Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici.
Arsenal started the second half a lot differently to the first, we were attacking more, desperately searching for a second goal. Even route one football was tried, anything just to get us back in the game.
Then the miracle began around the sixty minute mark, as too did the first substitutions.
Giroud and Eisfeld came on for Gnabry and Frimpong and as Wenger confirmed after the game, we went 4-2-4, all at attack to get this game back..
The second goal came from the most unlikely, that being a corner and this one was taken by Theo Walcott. Giroud got his head onto the cross and fired home with great pace past Federici. It really was a great header..
The match ticked on and for all their effort it seemed as if the team were going to pay for their first half lacklustre and careless attitude.
With only a minute left Koscielny managed to steer the ball home for what seemed a consolation goal and a respectable loss of 4-3. The fourth official signalled 4 minutes of added time.
However in the 95th minute, the referee having added on an extra minute after Reading carried out a bit of time-wasting, we bombarded the Reading goal for what would surely be the last time. Walcott’s shot towards goal, the ball clearly crossed the line but was not given, the Reading player scrambled it out (with his hand it looked like) only as far as Jenkinson who blasted the ball into the back of the net!
(The goal was later credited to Walcott)
But who cared at that moment, it could have gone in off of anyone for all I cared. Yes even the ball boy!
We were level and still alive in the cup.
Extra time started well for Arsenal who looked on the front foot now. The momentum was with us and Reading were feeling the effects of someone who thought that he had conquered the Italian love of his life only to see her in the arms of someone else.
Suddenly the game burst again into life when Chamakh fired a low shot through the legs of Kaspars Gorkss and beyond Federici’s outstretched fingers to put Arsenal ahead for the first time. The Reading fans did what some of the Arsenal fans did earlier…….and that was leave the stadium.
Pogrebnyak headed past Martinez to make the scoreline a mind-boggling 5-5. What would Mourinho have to say about this? He had derided Arsenal once for winning 5-4. But drawing 5-5? Surely there must have been only one somewhere who believed in such a score and betted on it?
With the game heading to penalties Walcott put us back in front and everyone thought that was it, but Chamakh had other ideas and having acquired the scoring bug which was missing since December 2010, he decided a famous victory.
As Reading attacked, the ball came to Walcott half way inside our own half. He played a long ball up the field which the Reading defender misjudged. The ball fell kindly to the Moroccan, who lobbed the ball over Federici to make the scoreline 7-5.
There was no comeback from Reading this time…..
Surely Arsene Wenger must start Chamakh against United at Old Trafford, he wants a hat-trick.
We can only wait and see.
Is this a footballing side? You can bet it is. But it surely is not a defensive side.
Next up those from Old Trafford. And we have a score to settle.
Written by Devilgunner.